Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Wreckers -by Francis Lynde

Free US/UK Kindle Classic
The Wreckers is a 1920 railroad novel by American author, Francis Lynde. (US Edition)  (UK Edition)  I call this a railroad novel, because there seems to have briefly been a genre that catered to those readers fascinated with all things railroad. 

Just an aside here to UK Kindle readers.  When I searched for this book under Kindle books on Amazon UK, an inexpensive version appeared - as if it were the only Kindle edition on offer.  Under the book was a bar and books were listed from other departments - including this free Kindle edition!  On both Amazon and Amazon UK, you sometimes have to dig to find the free Kindle version.

It was this way. We had finished the construction work on the Oregon Midland; had quit, cleaned up the offices, drawn our last pay-checks, told everybody good-by, and were on our way to the train, when I had one of those queer little premonitory chills you hear so much about and knew just as well as could be that we were never going to pull through to Chicago without getting a jolt of some sort. The reason—if you'll call it a reason—was that, just before we came to the railroad station, the boss walked calmly under a ladder standing in front of a new building; and besides that, it was the thirteenth day of the month, a Friday, and raining like the very mischief.
So this is a book that does not take itself too seriously.   Nevertheless, the early chapters are ambitious enough to include bandits, kidnapping and romance.

It all sounds pretty old fashioned until you stumble across this:
Stock gambling, under whatever name it masquerades—boosting values, buying and selling margins, reorganizations, with their huge rake-offs for the underwriters—is the incubus which is crushing the life out of the nation's industries, especially in the railroad field. It makes me wish I'd never seen a railroad track."
In a lot of ways our times are like the pre-WW I era through the Great Depression.  I am not saying it is an exact fit, but our economy has more in common with those boom and bust decades than it does with the post WWII prosperity of our parents and grandparents.  So novels of this time are not always as far removed as you might think.

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